Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pushing myself, or blogging while making dinner

Yesterday afternoon, I participated in a conference call with four intelligent and passionate women. We're working on a presentation about combating fear of technology in higher education, specifically fear of web 2.0. Barbara Ganley said something that stuck with me, so much that I couldn't sleep last night. She encouraged us to think about pushing our own thinking, to get out of our own comfort zone. As I was trying to go to sleep last night, I kept thinking about that, and kept thinking about what my comfort zone is. One of the reasons I wanted to do this presentation was that the format was going to be out of my comfort zone. We proposed doing a "digidrama," an interactive and multimedia-laden session. My comfort zone is text. I enjoy writing, even when it's hard. And although from a technical standpoint, I'm comfortable with video, audio and images, from an artistic standpoint, I feel like a complete dolt.

Barbara is always having her students use different media to express their ideas, to bring forth what's in their heads via images and audio and video instead of words. She also has them working with multiple media at the same time: words with audio, audio with pictures, etc. So, I tossed and turned last night thinking about how I might do that myself. I determined that I would bring my digital camera and my video camera to campus and begin documenting some of my thinking about technology and fear.

I was interrupted in my project by another project that fell in my lap this morning. I was asked by our acting CIO, who also serves on the Diversity Council, to help her put together a montage around the issues that have come up on campus over the last few semesters. She brought me some materials and her ideas. A student and I worked on it most of the day. And, boy, was it hard. First, diversity and the racial tensions we've experienced are difficult issues to address in any medium. And second, as I was charged with finding images or words that would spark conversation, I had to be careful not to pull images that were too controversial. Sadly, it's not hard to run into such things online. Third, as I started to put things together, a story kind of emerged and so I had to work to get the story "right" as I saw it emerging.

Although I'm disappointed that I couldn't tackle my own presentation while I was gung ho, I think putting this project together was a real opportunity to begin wrestling with the media. If it's possible, I'm even more gung ho than I was before.

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